- Associated Press - Friday, August 12, 2011

BOULDER, COLO. (AP) - Tyler Hansen doesn’t have to glance over his shoulder anymore, and he sure isn’t looking back with any regrets.

The senior quarterback, who was constantly concerned about former coach Dan Hawkins pulling him in favor of son Cody Hawkins, leads Colorado and new coach Jon Embree into their Pac-12 debut this fall after the Buffaloes bolted the Big 12.

“New conference. New coach. It’s a lot of new,” Hansen said. “I feel like it’s Christmas morning. You get a present and that’s the best present in the world. We’re real excited to be going there. it’s going to take some getting used to, but they have to get used to us, too.”

For Hansen, it’s the first time he won’t be worried about Cody Hawkins taking his job.

“It feels good, it’s a big weight off my shoulders. It’s awesome,” Hansen said. “I can’t explain it. The last couple of years have been rough. It’s been tough. Now it’s finally my team and it feels good.”

Hansen twice burned redshirt years to rescue the Buffs’ offense only to get bumped back to the sideline.

“At the time I made the decision I was happy with it, so I still have to be happy with it,” Hansen said. “It made me mature and it made me grow as a player, so I don’t regret it.”

The Buffs may have bolted the Big 12 but they returned to their roots with the hiring of Embree, who left his post as the Washington Redskins’ tight ends coach to come back to the state where he starred in both high school and college.

Embree, who is the fourth black head football coach in Pac-12 history, was a four-year starter at Colorado from 1983-87 before a short stint in the NFL. After an elbow injury ended his playing career, Embree spent 18 seasons as an assistant coach, including a decade in Boulder serving under coaches Bill McCartney, Rick Neuheisel and Gary Barnett.

Since his hiring in December, Embree has been busy re-establishing relationships, reconnecting with former Buffs and restoring traditions at his alma mater. He has an open invitation for former players to attend practice and talk to players.

Embree also brought another former Buff, Eric Bieniemy, with him from the NFL coaching ranks to serve as his offensive coordinator and running backs coach so the Buffs can re-establish the kind of ground game that used to be their hallmark.

“It’s what we have to do,” Embree said. “We have to run the ball for a couple of reasons. One, that needs to be our identity. If you’re going to be a physical team, you have to run the ball and impose your will on the other team. The other thing is it helps our defense.”

Hansen will be handing off to diminutive tailbacks Rodney “Speedy” Stewart and Brian Lockridge, both seniors who are under 5-foot-7.

Yet, Hansen pledges to be prudent himself when it comes to running the ball.

He missed the final month last year after rupturing his spleen on an option play against Texas Tech, and he’ll be careful not to take off and run too much with the Buffs playing 13 straight weeks without a weekend off. He’s also glad defenses won’t be able to just rush the passer all the time.

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